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Disappointing Aurora experience

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Disappointing Aurora experience

foiegras | May 16, 2005 12:22 AM

I've read so many great things about Aurora that I was quite disappointed with the reality!

Both the food and the service were lacking.

First, the food ...

The egg custard was topped with chopped smoked salmon and chives. I've always gagged on smoked salmon, but this barely bothered me, and the quality was clearly great. The custard on its own was too rich for me, though--and I didn't think anything was.

I started, of course, with the foie gras, which would have been good, except it was served at room temperature. Also, the bottom half (next to the apple) was even cooler ... apparently at least a couple things went awry in the kitchen. I love, love, love foie gras, but no ecstasy there.

For my entree, I had the tenderloin with potato, artichoke, and cured tomatoes. The vegetables were perhaps over-salted, and the meat undersalted. I found the concept of the dish lacking. I tasted the veal chop with chanterelles and fresh peas, and it was quite good--the meat was well-seasoned and flavorful, apparently much superior to what I had.

For dessert, I had the chocolate with pistachio ice cream. The pistachio flavor was drowned in almond extract, and the chocolate crust (and I love it dark) was quite bitter. I would have traded it for any number of chocolate treats available off the shelf in a heartbeat.

I've had far superior food at Nana--and I'm talking foie gras and tenderloin from the Restaurant Week menu, so the handicap in this comparison, I would think, was all Nana's.

The service was friendly, none of the snottiness I've occasionally observed elsewhere, youngish staff, and I gave everyone points for not being awkward about the fact that our party had an odd number of people and was headed by a woman. The tables are quite close together, reminiscent of the Riviera, so when the waitstaff gathered around to do the "reveal" of the entree, it was a bit claustrophobic not to mention forced. I was surprised to see everyone trying so hard, and not being more suave, at what's hardly a brand-new restaurant.

But here was the capper. It was about 9:45, and people who were there before us (we got there a bit before our 7:30 reservation) were still there. We were deep in conversation when the hostess came over and interrupted us, abruptly asking how we'd liked it and then leaving again. Of course, no good service person interrupts a conversation in that fashion, but I shrugged and returned to the conversation. I was ready to go, but the rest of the party were not, and I was happy to sit and talk for a bit. We probably would have left in the next 5 minutes. Here comes the hostess again--and this time she's giving us the boot. She said that there were people who'd been waiting for 15 minutes, they were getting rambunctious, and could we go to the table outside. Now, this could actually have been done tactfully. For example, she could have asked for us to do this as a favor. She could have offered us drinks or something. But a tactful approach was not hers. She was so forceful that we rose immediately as one, and one of the party actually forgot her purse at the restaurant in her haste.

In my haste I did not get a chance to look around to see who else might have been close to ready to leave. But there's little doubt in my mind that she perceived us as outliers from the herd and chose us to administer the boot to for that reason. Had I been a 55-year-old male in an Armani jacket, I rather imagine someone else (or no one else perhaps) would have been asked to leave. Isn't is sad that women get so little respect from other women?

Now perhaps I've just been lucky, but in my nearly four decades of eating in restaurants, never before have I been told to leave my table to make way for someone else. Unfortunately this coincided with my having just signed the biggest restaurant check of my life, since normally when I go to this type of restaurant, I'm not paying. May I say I was not happy? And may I say that my experience of both the food and the service lead me to believe I will be well-served to take my business in the future anywhere but Aurora.

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